Zinc and the best sources for this Immune boosting Mineral

Diva - 18 Jan 22

Did you know that a healthy amount of zinc in your diet has been linked to an improved immune system and faster wound healing? The benefits of getting enough zinc are endless, it is one of the best immune boosting minerals out there.

Minerals are important for your body to stay healthy. 
Your body uses minerals for many different jobs, including keeping your bones, muscles, heart, and brain working properly. Minerals are also important for making enzymes and hormones.

There are two kinds of minerals: macrominerals and trace minerals.

You need larger amounts of macrominerals. They include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride and sulfur. 

You only need small amounts of trace minerals. They include iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride and selenium.

Most people get the amount of minerals they need by eating a wide variety of foods. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a mineral supplement. People who have certain health problems or take some medicines may need to get less of one of the minerals. For example, people with chronic kidney disease need to limit foods that are high in potassium.

What is zinc and what does it do?

Zinc is a nutrient that people need to stay healthy. Zinc is found in cells throughout the body. It helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses. The body also needs zinc to make proteins and DNA, the genetic material in all cells. During pregnancy, infancy, and childhood, the body needs zinc to grow and develop properly. Zinc also helps wounds heal and is important for proper senses of taste and smell.

How Much Zinc Should You Take to See Benefits?

Zinc is an essential trace mineral, which means our bodies need only a small amount of it to maintain good health, according to The NIH, it sets the recommended dietary allowance at 8 milligrams (mg) for adult women and 11 mg for adult men. While only a small amount may be needed, don’t underestimate the power of this mighty mineral.

The amount of zinc you need each day depends on your age. Average daily recommended amounts for different ages are listed below in milligrams (mg):
Life StageRecommended Amount
Birth to 6 months2 mg
Infants 7–12 months3 mg
Children 1–3 years3 mg
Children 4–8 years5 mg
Children 9–13 years8 mg
Teens 14–18 years (boys)11 mg
Teens 14–18 years (girls)9 mg
Adults (men)11 mg
Adults (women)8 mg
Pregnant teens12 mg
Pregnant women11 mg
Breastfeeding teens13 mg
Breastfeeding women12 mg

What benefits does zinc hold for us? 

* It can Shorten the common cold. When taken as an over-the-counter supplement, zinc reduced the severity and duration of the common coldA review found that zinc supplementation could potentially reduce the length of the common cold by 2.25 days.

* Can possibly Fend off heart disease. Researchers found that zinc may play an important role in regulating the heartbeat — a potential advancement in the fight against arrhythmia-related heart failure. For the study, scientists used cardiac tissue from sheep hearts when observing these benefits, so more research in humans is needed before it’s clear that eating foods with zinc would produce these results for people. Another study found that supplementing with zinc and magnesium for 12 weeks helped people with type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease decrease their insulin and fasting blood sugar levels and increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

*May help Treat hypothyroidism. Researchers have observed that zinc positively affected the  thyroid function.

* Can Improve eye health. Specifically, supplemental zinc may help slow the progression of age related muscular dystrophy.

* It can Support wound healing. As mentioned, zinc may aid the healing of wounds by reducing inflammation and activating immune cells at the area of injury.

Can Adding These Foods to My Diet Help Prevent Illnesses Like the Novel Coronavirus?

 Zinc’s effect on covid-19. The data is inconclusive at this point, but it seems that being deficient in zinc could worsen symptoms if you do test positive for covid-19. A small study  found that a significant number of people with COVID-19 were also deficient in zinc and that the zinc-deficient individuals developed more complications than those who were not deficient in the mineral. That said, more studies are needed to know the true relationship between zinc deficiency and COVID-19.Unfortunately, it seems that starting to take zinc once you’re diagnosed won’t help. Supplementing with zinc did not lessen COVID-19 symptoms among patients who’d been diagnosed.

Oysters Pack Zinc and Other Key Vitamins and Minerals

This bivalve is a zinc powerhouse of 5.5 mg per raw oyster. That means oysters are an excellent source of the mineral. This shellfish is also low in calories, with only 7 calories per oyster, and is packed with other valuable vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12 and selenium.Try oysters cooked or on the half shell. No matter how you serve them, you’re in for a tasty treat and possibly a stronger immune system to boot, thanks to their zinc content.

Crab and Lobster Make It Easy to Meet Your Zinc Needs

Crab and lobster are both excellent sources of zinc. One cooked crab offers 6.5 mg, and a small steamed or boiled lobster has 4.7mg. Seafood is also a great addition to any heart-healthy diet, though shellfish doesn’t provide as many heart benefits as salmon and sardines do.

Meat and Poultry Serve Up Protein and Zinc

Beef, pork, and chicken are not only loaded with protein, they provide a decent helping of zinc, too. For the most nutritious cuts, choose lean meats such as 90 percent lean beef, pork tenderloin, and boneless chicken breasts. Just 1 cup of chopped roasted, skinless chicken breast has 2.13 mg of zinc. That makes chicken a good source of the mineral.While the jury is still out on which came first, eggs also contain zinc — about 0.6 mg per large egg— so crack one open today to help optimize your levels of the nutrient.If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, research shows that you can still get enough zinc if you carefully plan your diet. That said, be diligent about it:  people on these plant-based diets may need 50 percent more zinc than recommended amounts. To get your fix, there are plenty of non-meat sources of zinc on this list. Plus, you’re doing your body good by filling your plate with plants: Following a healthy plant based diet has been linked to lower mortality risks among  adults.

Vegetables Such as Mushrooms and Kale Are Low-Calorie Sources of Zinc

Did you know that nutritious vegetables like mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, kale, and garlic contain zinc, as well as other vital vitamins and minerals? One cup of sliced raw mushrooms contains 0.36 mg of zinc. Kale offers roughly the same amount (0.3 mg) in 1 cooked cup. Adding these foods to your diet will give you an extra dose of zinc without adding many calories to your daily total. Mushrooms have a mere 20 calories in 3 oz, plus an excellent amount of the B vitamin riboflavin. In addition to zinc, kale offers vitamins A, K, B6, and C, plus calcium, potassium, copper, and manganese — all for only 33 calories per cup.

Legumes Are a Vegetarian-Friendly Source of Zinc

Legumes like chickpeas, lentils and beans also provide zinc. Add foods like hummus, edamame, and black beans to your meals for extra zinc and other health benefits.Of these foods, 1 cup of lentils, which offers 2.52 mg per cup, is an excellent source, while good sources include the same serving sizes of cooked edamame (2.13 mg), black beans (1.93 mg), and canned chickpeas (1.66 mg).For relatively few calories, legumes are a great low-fat, high-protein food packed with vitamins, minerals, and lots of dietary fiber.

Versatile Nuts and Seeds Make It Easy to Up Your Zinc Intake

Next time you prepare a salad, toss in a bit of pumpkin seeds or pine nuts for extra crunch. They’ll provide 2.17 mg (an excellent source) and 1.8 mg (a good source). Or pick up some nuts from your grocery store. Try sprinkling cashews, pecans, or peanuts (technically a legume) on top of low-fat or fat-free yogurt or oatmeal. For example, 1 oz of dry-roasted cashews is a good source of zinc, with 1.6 mg. Haven’t tried chia seeds yet? These little guys are a good source, too — 1 oz provides 1.3 mg of the mineral. 

Whole Grains Deliver Fiber and Key Vitamins and Minerals Like Zinc

Whole grains offer a myriad of health benefits. Packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and — you guessed it — zinc, 1 cup raw oats is an excellent source, with 2.95 mg of zinc, while the same amount of cooked brown rice is a good source, with 1.38 mg. Also, if you like using whole wheat bread, know that two slices have 1.12 mg of the mineral. Another whole grain that is a good source of zinc is cooked quinoa, which provides 1.85 mg per cup. 

Fortified Breakfast Cereals Can Provide a Quarter of Your Zinc Needs — But Watch for Sugar

Many breakfast cereals are fortified with a number of vitamins and minerals, including zinc. In general, 1 cup provides 2.8 mg, an excellent source. Check the nutrition label to see exactly how much you’ll be getting from your favourite brand. While analysing the nutrition label, take a look at added sugar, too. The vast majority of cereals are too sweet to be considered healthy, packing roughly 2 teaspoons of sugar per serving. 

Milk and Dairy Foods Help You Meet Your Calcium and Zinc Goals

In addition to being rich sources of calcium, milk and yogurt are delicious and nutritious sources of zinc. 1 cup of non fat or low fat milk contains 1.1 mg and 1.05 mg, respectively, offering some of the mineral. Meanwhile, 1 cup of nonfat yogurt or low fat plain yogurt is an excellent source with 2.38 mg and 2.2 mg. Add fat-free or low-fat milk to oatmeal, and smoothies, and try yogurt topped with granola and fresh fruit.Again, don’t worry if you’re dairy-free. As you can see from this list, there are plenty of ways to source zinc and steer clear of animal products. 

Try Decadent Dark Chocolate for a Zinc-Filled Dessert

What a sweet surprise! Yet another exciting fact about dark chocolate is that it’s a source of zinc. And the darker, the better: Generally, 60 -90 percent cacao varieties offer some — nearly 0.75 mg — per ounce, while 70 - 85 percent cacao varieties contain slightly more, 0.9 mg.That’s not all though: Dark chocolate may have some vascular benefits, including lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow, due to its flavanol content.  While dark chocolate may be your favourite source of zinc, remember that it’s not the only one: To keep calories and sugar in check, stick to no more than 1 oz.

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